ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (7): 1216-1230.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.01216

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Attention bias to faces in infants and toddlers: Inborn predispositions and developmental changes

JING Wei1, ZHANG Jie2, FU Jinxia1, TIAN Lin2, ZHAO Wei1   

  1. 1College of Education, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710062, China;
    2Xi'an Children's Hospital, Xi'an 710002, China
  • Received:2020-08-08 Online:2021-07-15 Published:2021-05-24

Abstract: Typically developing individuals not only show an inborn predisposition to pay attention to faces from birth, but also present a stable attention bias to faces in different developmental stages and situations. There remains a theoretical divergence on the underlying mechanism of this innate predisposition of facial attention between the sub-cortical face template and the proto-organization of the visual cortex. However, the neural basis of the postnatal development of this mechanism is generally considered to be the preferential selective response of the face-selective area that gradually forms with the accumulation of facial visual experiences. However, infants with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may suffer from insufficient input of face visual experience due to impaired perception and attention or the lack of social motivation, which may hinder the formation of the face-selective area. Studies have confirmed that infants with ASD have an initial predisposition to pay attention to faces, but gradually deviate from the normal track during the critical period of facial cortex development, showing an obvious impairment of facial attention at the end of infancy. In future research, we should explore the origin of the congenital predisposition of facial attention in neonates by using genetic methods and near-infrared brain imaging technology, and systematically investigate the influence of perceptual and social characteristics on the development track of face attention in high-risk infants with ASD to identify the potential mechanism responsible for facial attention impairment.

Key words: infant and toddler, autism spectrum disorder, attention bias to faces, inborn predisposition, developmental change

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